The Houston Chronicle
preparation for an upcoming 2006 Valentines Day
article, Houston Chronicle reporter Tara Dooley
contacted me by phone to ask some questions about the dance studio's
vaunted reputation as Cupid's Happy Hunting Ground.
Here is Ms. Dooley's story.
THE ROAD TO ROMANCE -
Matchmakers tip hand of fate
By TARA DOOLEY
Feb. 14, 2006/Valentine's
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
the dance floor to the computer, love
is in the air!
At the time, Rick Archer almost seemed to be
peering into Susan Broer's heart and making a
profound prediction about the man who had just
walked into her dance class.
Susan had come to Archer's
dance studio nursing a broken heart.
A friend had
recommended that she try something fun.
dancing fit that bill, she figured.
It was 1979,
So there she was without a dance partner when a
handsome stranger walked in the door.
surveyed the room deciding what to do with this
newcomer, Susan waited.
And then he did it.
As Susan remembers the moment, "Rick
pointed to me and said, 'Why
don't you dance with Susan?'
At the time, it seemed like fate, the very bow of
cupid in the form of a disco dance instructor.
Later, after they were a couple, Archer said he put
them together because they were both tall.
Whatever the reason, Archer had provided a push toward
romance and nearly 26 years of marriage.
"Rick did pair us up, which I thought was some great psychic
prediction that we were going to be soul mates," said
who married Greg about a year after they met at dance class.
"I guess it just had to do
with being tall."
Tales of romance often involve the person or place that
helped make it all happen. These days, the cupid of choice
is often a computer program that analyzes a series of
multiple-choice questions and spits out a set of names and
photos with a promise of electronic harmony.
But whether computer, coach, dinner club, dance instructor
or modern-day yenta, the professional matchmaker is alive
and well this century, finding finds and catching catches.
Rather than delivering brides and grooms wrapped in dowries,
the modern-day cupid works as a romance nudge:
Offering opportunity rather
Though Archer promises only two-steps, jitterbugs or
waltzes, he is not oblivious to his ancillary role
His name, after all, is
And he fills his dance
studio Web site with tales of the romances that have
flourished among his students.
"When you put a man and woman in each other's arms, you
allow chemistry to start to happen," Archer said.
But for those serious about romance, Archer believes you
just gotta dance.
"You don't have to respond to 15 Internet ads," he said.
"You don't have to e-mail back and forth. You get a living
human being with eye contact in your arms and
Cupid's magic starts to work.
my magic, but Cupid's magic."
An Interview with the Matchmaker
Written by Rick Archer,
I had mixed
feelings when I read Ms. Dooley's article on
Valentine's Day. Of course I enjoyed her article
thoroughly and appreciated the kind recognition she
gave to me and to the studio.
But I also felt dissatisfied. After
all, we had talked by phone for over an hour!
There were so many great stories
I had told her that
had not made it to print because Ms. Dooley was
forced to condense her material into the allotted
Plus there were so many things I wanted to tell her
that we did not have time to get to.
I felt very incomplete, unfinished. There were
still things I wanted to say.
That's when it dawned on me. Why not write a "Pretend
Interview"? That way I could ask myself all
the questions I wanted to!
But first I
would need an Interviewer. Hmm. My buddy
Rose from the studio hates it when I tease her. Every
time I call her "Thornbird", she turns around and
calls me "Gertrude". I assume she is
trying to get under my skin, but I love the name.
So Gertrude it is. Therefore Gertrude will be my
Hopefully Gertie the Birdie will ask me every
question about SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance she can
possibly think of!!
I hope you enjoy "Gabfest with Gertrude".
Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude
Gertrude's first question was pretty direct. "Do you
consider yourself to be a Cupid?"
I laughed. "Well, I don't think of myself as
but I am an Archer. I take enormous pride in the
dance studio's success as a place where people feel
safe to let their guard down."
Gertrude laughed in turn. "So you consider
yourself more as Cupid's Assistant?"
"Yes, I feel comfortable with that designation.
I definitely see myself as a
Match Maker, but not 'directly' per se. I
don't make a habit of directly putting people in
each other's face (although now that the Chronicle
article came out I find myself starting to do just
No, I see my role as Cupid's Assistant. I am
his official director of the Mating Dance
I work very hard to let people know the studio is a
dynamic catalyst for allowing feelings to develop in
a patient, graceful way.
"Are you a Matchmaker by design?
Is this something you have done for a long time?"
"I have grown into the role. I really
didn't even lift a finger for the first twenty-two
years. Only when the Internet came along and I
began to post each story did I begin to realize just how incredibly effective the studio is
at creating relationships.
I mean, it was a forest and the trees thing. I was so
close to the every day duties of the studio that I
never took a step back to see the big picture.
But then the Internet came along. The Internet changed everything. First I
realized how powerful the SSQQ Newsletter was at
keeping huge numbers of people posted about what was
going at here at the studio. Plus writing
things down in a place where I could keep track made
a difference too. The ssqq web site was the best
thing to come along since the "SSQQ Hotline" back in
the early 80s.
day at the end of 1999, the first full year of the
SSQQ Web Site, I collected the stories from the
individual months into one spot. That is when
I noticed I had written quite a few of wedding notices. Just for the fun of it I
added up all the weddings and engagements.
number came to 23... practically two couples a month!
Two couples a month were getting married because of
my dance studio!!
Of course I
had nothing to compare this number to, but I
couldn't help but get goose bumps.
I thought that was phenomenal. My little heart
went pitter-patter with pride. 2 couples a
month. Imagine that!"
do you suppose Ms. Dooley meant when
she said, 'Rick
is not oblivious to his ancillary
teachers dream of winning a dance championship. Or
they enjoy helping their students win huge dance
competitions . Not me. That is not my
I get my
pride from creating a climate that nurtures the
development of serious relationships. This is why
Ms. Dooley coined the phrase 'in
his ancillary role to Cupid'.
If you can
avoid gagging over the corn-factor in what I about
to say, the way I interpret Ms. Dooley's phrase is
that I am consciously in charge of preparing Cupid's
Playground. I make a real effort to make the
social side of my dance program very conducive for
people to meet.
I organize dance events, I organize the Dance
Cruises with my wife Marla, I organize Practice Night, I buy
couches for comfy conversations, I hire security in
the form of our Hall Monitors, and I publicize the
events to the best of my ability on the ssqq web
site. After that all is done, then each night I roll the basketball out on the
floor and tell the kids to play the game.
I believe someone put me here to do a job. Therefore
I take my role seriously. I consciously work
to create the perfect climate for people to meet.
Then I get out of the way and let Cupid make his
I have had a desire to do social work
from the moment I graduated from college. All
I can say is 'Thank you' for the destiny that has
allowed me to use my skills to help other people as
best as I possibly can.
People might misinterpret this article and think it
is me bragging. It is not 'bragging', I assure
you. This article is my way of telling the
world that SSQQ is a very special place and that our
success at creating marriages is NOT AN
I think it is important that I write about our
story. It doesn't do anyone any good if I
put all this effort into creating the studio and
no one knows about it!
That is what this article is about - I am writing
this article to tell the reader that if you want to
meet someone, SSQQ is the Cupid's playground.
All you have to do is PARTICIPATE. You must
take the first step.
However, the Cynics always need convincing.
The Romantics are already on board. Therefore the
rest of this article is for you skeptics out there!
I feel deeply blessed to be allowed to contribute in
this way. The honest truth is I led a charmed
life during the formative years of this studio.
Now that destiny put me in this position, I work
every day to thank the Universe
for believing in me.
I realize this is
pure schmaltz, but it is also the truth. I am
grateful for the chance to serve.